In an exclusive interview, the former BVB man reveals his side of the story regarding the attacker’s acrimonious exit
Former Borussia Dortmund translator Massimo Mariotti has revealed the details behind Ousmane Dembele’s infamous disappearance that ultimately resulted in forcing through a move to Barcelona, claiming that the France international and his entourage were unreachable for three days.
Dembele arrived at Signal Iduna Park in 2016 following a stellar season for Rennes in Ligue 1 and immediately lit up the Bundesliga with his pace, trickery, technique and eye for goal.
Naturally, the young attacker’s impressive performances at a club that regularly competes in the Champions League attracted admiring glances from elsewhere – most notably from Barcelona, who would go on to lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.
Dembele essentially went on strike to capitalise on Barca’s interest, with Dortmund unable to locate the French World Cup winner amid a period of great uncertainty. And Mariotti, who is now a translator for German side Schalke, revealed his side of the story exclusively to Goal & SPOX.
“Everyone came to me and asked where he was,” Mariotti, who was responsible for helping Dembele settle in Germany, said. “But I didn’t know either. I tried to reach him and his cousin, but that was in vain.
“They were both unavailable for three days. Somehow I had guessed at the time that he was no longer in Dortmund at all, so I went to his house and found out that he had gone to France with his mother in the morning.
“Ousmane was really gone overnight and I was the only one who had contact with him later. I told him that he should come back, so that we could talk about things and he could understand BVB, that he must behave professionally. But it was already too late for that.”
Mariotti also made it clear that while there was always going to be a period of transition for the youngster in a new country, Dembele was never alone and always had someone on hand to help him settle.
“He was never alone, his cousin and best buddy lived with him,” Mariotti added. “His mother came over again and again. Ousmane was just very young and needed a lot of support. They were completely overwhelmed.
“Ousmane himself was relaxed and always said: ‘Massimo will take care of that’. Also, [former BVB coach] Thomas Tuchel spoke to him almost daily and put together video analysis. He said to me: ‘Massimo, we need him, he’s so incredibly good, take care of him’.
“Ultimately, his lifestyle was good enough to allow him to put in strong performances with BVB.”
Rumours had circulated after Dembele’s exit that he had left his German apartment in a mess and that his landlord had filed a lawsuit against the winger. Mariotti, however, insists that is not true.
“That’s not true,” he said. “His adviser had asked me to drive to his house and take pictures. I did that after he moved and I photographed everything there. I collected the keys and took them to the owner in Rheda-Wiedenbruck.
“I did not see any garbage there. He left the house in top condition and never missed his rent. He even got his deposit back.”
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